The Arabist

The Arabist

By Issandr El Amrani and friends.

Morocco's Le Journal: "We are all Shia"

My friend Abou Bakr Jamai, publisher of Morocco's Le Journal weekly now in forced into exile because of bogus lawsuits against his magazine, sent me this week's cover highlighting Morocco's new religious crusade for "the right Islam" that must be followed.

This campaign is aimed at asserting the "Sunni malekite nature" of "Moroccan Islam"; its aim is to buttress the pro-monarchy traditionalism of very Morocco-specific institutions such as the "Commandership of the Faithful" (specific in that it argues that the king has the same role as a Caliph, but only for Moroccans), Sherifism (high respect for descendants of the prophet, a very Shia tradition that has since Sultan Moulay Ismail in the 17th century been a key part of governance through a ethno-religious aristocracy) and the prominence of apolitical Sufi tariqat. The campaign to reimpose these traditionalist values is partly a not-so-badly thought out attempt to limit the spread of salafism (I applaud that) but has also spread into paranoia about Iran-funded Shia conversion and as a way to put pressure on Islamic parties, legal and unrecognized. But it's the kind of thing that the Moroccan regime has long done - asserting a Moroccan Islam that is nice and fluffy vs. the Islam of its opponents - and, moreover, the foreigners usually lap it up.

[caption id="attachment_3928" align="aligncenter" width="450" caption=""We are all Shia, Sunni, Jewish, Christian, atheist, agnostic..." "]"We are all Shia, Sunni, Jewish, Christian, atheist, agnostic..." [/caption]